Body Size, Body Shape: 6 Women's Stories

We all have issues with the bodies we were born with, but there's only so much you can change. Here, six women on how they work what they've got.



When I came to this country from Korea, I was so fascinated by tall American girls with blonde hair and blue eyes, I was ashamed to be a tiny Asian girl. But I'm a fighter, an Aries, and I express myself through fashion — although try finding fabulous clothes in size 2! I always have to preorder from stores to snag my size. Before I hit 32 five years ago, I was one of those women who could eat whatever she wanted. But now I have to practice portion control — especially since I love my junk food. I just recently signed up for a ballet class — an art that celebrates a small frame. Now I am stronger and stand taller, and ballet has added shapely new curves to my booty.

FAVORITE LOOK: A menswear jacket or loose cardigan over leggings with heels.

DO: The tiny fitted jackets from Dior Homme.

DON'T: Skimpy skirts with Uggs.



I began to feel proud of my body a few years ago when I started going to the gym and discovered what it was capable of. Instead of feeling like I was overweight compared to the current crop of models starving themselves, I was suddenly getting compliments from model types who admired my strength and healthy figure. I find Amazonian models like those in Herb Ritts photos from the early '90s to be more attractive than skinny twigs, but I am the most oblivious person to what men think. Some like boobs and bums, but it's always going to boil down to personal taste. Women want to be superskinny for other women — that silhouette is associated with achieving alpha women, while the healthy, curvy Bridget Joneses are the hapless betas. I can't relate at all; I don't aspire to be a size 0, thanks very much!

FAVORITE LOOK: A fitted dress by Dolce & Gabbana or Roland Mouret.

DO: Sexy sweaters, leggings, and over-the-knee boots.

DON'T: Puffy baby-doll dresses.

short asian woman next to tall blond woman

(Image credit: Henry Leutwyler)



When, at 14, I shot up to my adult height of 6' 1 1/2", the usual teen-girl angst went into overdrive. (My father is 6' 10", so being tall was inevitable.) Being supertall seems to give strangers carte blanche to stare, point, or comment. ("How's the weather up there?" Hilarious, right?) Rather than stoop to conquer, I adapted to expectations and developed into an extrovert, taking on a class-clown persona. Becoming a runway model in Paris at 17 allowed me to really embrace my oddity — I didn't have to play the apologetic Lurch in ballet flats. As for men, if I try to be leading lady to a 5-foot guy, he's automatically playing Danny DeVito. So I tend to date up: I'm drawn to strapping males — who don't need a damsel in distress — with whom I can see eye to eye.

FAVORITE LOOK: A Grecian column gown that showcases height.

DO: Buy suits big, for shoulders and length; then re-tailor if they're too baggy. Calvin Klein has a great range of sizes.

DON'T: Frilly little-girl details.



I fit just fine into my Russian family, with a 4' 11" grandmother and a 5' 2" mom (I'm 5'). I only noticed I was short when I moved to New York in the 1980s and got into the fashion world. One day I was doing the makeup on a shoot with a quartet of big supermodels — Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, and Christy Turlington. They were all towering over me, wearing tiny bikinis, and there I was pregnant! I actually had to sit down at one point and ask myself: Are you even going to go there? Are you really going to compare yourself with these long-limbed Barbies? No matter how I dieted or exercised, I was never going to have that body. It just wasn't in my cards. Even today, I've achieved everything I've wanted — I have a very big foot in the corporate world — but, of course, I'm still short. When strangers stop me on the street after seeing me on TV, they're always surprised to see just how little I actually am. I guess my big personality makes me seem taller. But even with my success, there are days I'm insecure (and pull on my highest Manolos), and days I just laugh about it. Funny thing: As a makeup artist, I find that even many of the supermodels and famous actresses who sit in my chair confide what they don't like about their looks. Obsessing over our flaws is ultimately self-defeating; like everyone else, I get the most compliments when I'm feeling confident and comfortable in my skin.

FAVORITE LOOK: A custom-made blazer and body-hugging boot-cut jeans that elongate the leg.

DO: I love Theory and Tory Burch, and I'm comfortable all night in Steve Madden's amazing platform sandals.

DON'T: Stripes and high-waisted pants — too overwhelming.

tall red headed woman and short brunette in suits

(Image credit: Henry Leutwyler)



In much of America, big boobs reign, but growing up in preppy '80s Westchester, New York, the overtly sexy bikini thing wasn't exactly the norm. It was only when my girlfriends got bustier that I realized I was under an average B. I didn't reach for a padded bra, but I also wasn't entirely comfortable with my body until I was in my late 20s and figured out what flattered me. Only once did I have full, sexy breasts: It was a temporary perk of being pregnant. Today, I'm happy to work with what I have. And I rarely have to worry, Will my boobs look okay in this?

FAVORITE LOOK: Tunics, A-line tops, girly minidresses.

DO: Layer silky blouses, tanks, and necklaces.

DON'T: Anything strapless — there's not enough to hold it up!



Mother Nature has a sense of humor. I come from a long line of small-boobed females, so when I reached my teens and lost my puppy fat, I shocked everyone when I grew an enormous chest. At 11, I was treated like a teenager, which wasn't easy. Even now, at 34DD, I'm not into having them on display. Still, I'm glad my husband thinks I look amazing and feminine. Having kids made me happiest with my figure. My big boobs were so efficient when I was breast-feeding. Ultimately, being healthy and self-accepting is what's cool.

FAVORITE LOOK: My low-cut Versace gown.

DO: Wear tanks under low-cut tops for day.

DON'T: Crush yourself into too-tight clothes.